Our plan a year ago when we started this adventure was to be through the Panama Canal and in the Caribbean by now. Maybe even take our boat up the East Coast to Annapolis for Dan’s 40 Year class reunion…. But with all things, flexibility is key when things you can’t control impact plans. Our January shipyard work took longer than 4 weeks and this put us into a situation where we would be hurrying down the coast to get out of the way of hurricanes….. (not an ideal situation) So we made Mexican lemonade and went to The Sea of Cortez – Blog about this adventure = Sea of Cortez Anchorages & Marinas, A Nautical Travel Guide… #29
After our adventures north we stayed at Marina de La Paz. The temperatures were 90 to 100+, so we decided to head to Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta (a suburb of Puerto Vallarta) sooner rather than later, where it was a bit cooler, so off we went.
Out trip to Puerto Vallarta would be our third and Dan and I decided we would do this alone without the help of our friends. Our plan was:
But with all good plans….they change. We departed LaPaz as expected, fishing along the way, with no luck. Totally uneventful trip throughout the evening. We had a great sunset, moonrise and moring blue sky.
We arrived at 7am at the mouth of the land where we would enter into the marina de yates. (we had never been to this marina before) As you can see the entrance into the marina was very tight and was very hard to see visually. As we approached the opening (or where we thought was the opening) the waves were building up behind us and it was not a comfortable situation to be in. We could have been pushed into the rocks/land very easily. So we abandoned the idea of staying at this marina near Altata. We had already been underway for 20 hours and now we were heading down the coast for who knows how long. We looked for a bay we could anchor in overnight. We found a good looking one about 7 hours away. So we headed toward “Barras de Piaxtla”.
Arriving at a great looking bay with hotels/pangas/beach front and seemed to be popular location. We anchored and I started to cook some dinner. As we were eating, the waves and wind were hitting us from different directions, competing with each other. The wind was blowing and holding us north/south but the waves were hitting us from the west. So we were getting hit broadsided and rolling us side-to-side. It was not comfortable at all. While this was happening I could see lightning stretch across the sky over the land. It didn’t take us long to decide to pull anchor and head towards Mazatlan. We had just completed 27 hours of cruising and really wanted to get a good night’s sleep. But it was not meant to be…. we were back cruising.
“Dan and I trade off the watch schedule with 3-4 hours of watch while the other sleeps”
As we headed to Mazatlan we had 5 hours of cruising and realized that we would be arriving around 2am, not an ideal time to go into the marina. Our plan was to anchor close to Isla de Pajaros Just outside the marina entrance. So after a total of 32 hours cruising we finally arrived, anchored and got some sleep. We pulled anchor and arrived in Marina Mazatlan at about 10:30 am and we stayed 3 nights. This gave us plenty of time to recover and be prepared for our 20 hour run to Puerto Vallarta.
We left Marina Mazatlan 3 days later at around 2pm due to the tide and currents. We planned to be in Paradise Village at around 11am if all went well. We had a pretty rough start but the sea settled down just after midnight. I took over watch from Dan at approx 2:30 am. The cloud cover was heavy and the lightning was surrounding me but was far away. At approx 4:30 am I could see a huge storm right in front of us. I needed to go around it but wanted Dan’s opinion first. So with hesitation I woke him up. We agreed to track the storm as we slowed down a bit to see which way it was going. An hour later I was making my move and decision to go around the storm as Dan slept for another couple hours.
By sunrise I was back asleep and Dan could get a better view of the storm and he cut through the center where the clouds and storm had parted.
We did hit a small corner of the storm as we got close to Banderas bay which gave us considerable amount of rain. With this slight deviation it increased our time by an hour and we arrived safe and sound in Paradise Village Marina at noon.
The evening we arrived, in one of our favorite towns/marina, we were invited to an event at the Vallarta Yacht club for drinks and dinner… and got to meet lots of boating new friends.
We are truly blessed to be able to live this life!
Thank you for following us and reading our adventures!
If you have been thinking about traveling to Mexico by boat, you don’t want to miss out on visiting some of the awesome anchorages in the Sea of Cortez. I will cover those marinas/anchorages that we stopped at…. but there are many more! It is a beautiful trip and I highly recommend it!
Lets cover some basics before the review of each location
Bahia = Bay
Isla = Island
Caleta = Cove
Playa = Beach
Punta = Tip or Point
Once you head into the Sea the majority of this trip there is NO cell or internet service. Tell your family that you are taking a well needed break. Some of the more developed cities along the way have poor quality service, but the service does work.
I will give a “star” rating for each location 1-5, low to high (this is our opinion only) ratings are based against other marinas or anchorages. Not against each other… not fair.
We used these two books to help navigate and make decisions on where to stay. Of course the direction of the wind/waves also determined our picks.
Whether you choose to come down with a rally like “Baja ha ha “or “CUBAR” or on your own, you will more than likely have Cabo San Lucas as your first stop. This is where I will start the review.
Cabo San Lucas Anchorage – 2.5* & Marina 3.8*
Cabo is a big huge developed city and you can get anything you want in the city with great amenities. Fuel, provisions, good cell service, snorkeling, scub, restaurants, spa, etc. etc. The city is very lively and stays up all hours of the night. If you like this, you will like this town. It was a bit too loud for us, you can hear music from bars out into the bay until 4am. (hence the lower rating than expected) Watch out for the winds and waves which can come up unexpectedly and hit you hard. Have a plan and be prepared on what you will do if this happens.
The marina is pretty good size and the noise from the bars is not so bad. It is a bit expensive and can be crowded if events are happening. e.g.; fishing tournament, boat rally, etc.
Puerto Los Cabos Marina (San Jose del Cabo) – 4.2*
Puerto Los Cabos is a short jaunt around the corner from Cabo. The marina is small and no town next to marina. There is a small amount of anchorage area inside the breakwater. Small cafe with the “Best pollo nachos”. There is an OXXO on the far side of the marina. Internet and cell service is okay in this location. We enjoyed this marina and would go back. As long as you understand it is a bus or taxi ride to town.
117 nm to….
Bahia Balandra – 3.1*
This bay is very close to La Paz and very comfy and convenient if you don’t want to go through the La Paz channel in the dark. (The channel is very tight when looking at it in the dark along with lights on the land reflect against the red/green buoys and in your eyes) You can anchor here for the night as we did. It is a really pretty bay with good snorkeling and wildlife. Pretty good protection from the wind. No cell service.
Costa Baja Marina in La Paz – 4.8*
This marina had everything including resort amenities & very luxurious! It is a bit of a ways out of town, so some people don’t like it. But the shuttle runs almost every hour for free, just tip the driver. You can find just about anything in town. Grocery with lots of very good choices, bagel shop, banks, sail shops and farmers market (smaller than PV but still very good) on Tuesday and Saturdays. Marina is very clean, great security, helpful & friendly staff, pool, restaurants, very small store (limited items), fast strong dock based pump out came to us & didn’t have to move, fuel dock, Good internet & cell service. (Not great!)
Inside La Paz 4nm…
Marina de la Paz – 4.6*
We have stayed here a couple times too. It is a great location downtown, cheaper than Costa Baja. Docks are newer and seemed well maintained, cable internet (hard wired) & Wi-Fi is good & cell service. Easy walk to lots of restaurants, we have had dental work and new eye glasses done in this town too. Lots of anchorages in bay and dinghy’s come in to dock here. One restaurant at head of marina, showers & toilets. The sewer pump-out at this marina is a manual process and didn’t work well for us. There is a small yacht club, Club Cruceros de La Paz, they have books and DVD for free. Rent DVD’s and exchanges books
There are two other marinas here in La Paz, Marina Cortez & Marina Palmira. We have not stayed in these two.
Isla Espiritu Santo (Holy Spirit Island), Ensenada del la Raza – 3.2*
This island is the largest in the group of islands just north of La Paz. Lots of snorkeling and scuba is done on the group of islands. We picked Ensenada dl La Raza as our first anchorage location. Very windy stayed 1 extra night than planned because of weather. If we would have been able to get in the water might have rated a bit higher. Lots of turtles cruising around boat. Length of stay 3 nights. No cell service.
Isla San Francisco – 3.0*
Isla San Francisco is a small island south of Isla San Jose and is only 2 miles wide. The bay in this island is a semicircle that is west facing. Bugs near this island were becoming overwhelming. Good thing Angela finished making screens for the doors and window in La Paz! There is a hike up on one side, but too buggy & hot this time of year. A generally calm location from winds compared to other places. Others did it and said it was a beautiful view. Length of stay – 2 nights. No cell service.
Bahia El Gato (The Cat) – 4.3*
Legend has it that Cougars lived in caves and would come down to fish in the bay, hence the name. This is a cove on Baja California. It has white sandy beach surrounded by red rock bluffs. It is a beautiful bay. I took the kayak out and around the bay and saw lots of sea life, including these small crabs that stayed on rocks, but would run about as I got close. Dan did a snorkeling and said the fish were hundreds and enjoyed it. Wish I would have gone too. (next time) Length of stay – 2 nights. No cell Service.
Bahia Agua Verde (Green Water bay) – 4.8*
A beautiful bay with beautiful greenish blue water, sandy beaches, large rock formations. Very small tienda for shopping and a very small taco shop on the beach. Dan and I snorkeled around the Pyramid rock. The rock was in just offshore in the middle of the bay. The water was a little rough that day, so we stayed close to each other. Had Great fun! Length of stay – 2 nights. Watch the wind in this location it can pick up quickly. No cell service, but the tienda has Pay by hour internet service.
Candeleros has a hotel resort at the shoreline of the bay. It stands all alone with nothing else really to support it. Hwy 1 runs past it and it seem slightly busy with guests when we went to visit. It is an unprotected anchorage & we got lucky with the wind. We were back in limited cell service for the first time in a week+. The Hotel had nice food and very good service. Was not allowed to use pool or other facilities. But they did have internet we could use. Length of stay – 2 nights
10 nm to…
Puerto Escondido Marina- 4.4*
Very protected Marina with well-maintained docks and friendly service. Very nice restaurant, covered pool, laundry/showers facilities. Closest marina to Loreto. We took the motorcycle and went into downtown Loreto for provisions, mostly vegetables. Had multiple friends at marina, always fun to visit and hang out. A bit rough with NW prevailing wind and waves. No shuttle in to Loreto (18 miles away) but you can easily rent car from about $30 usd a day. small Nice grocery store on-site, Wi-Fi at office we could use. The jumping Manta Ray put on a show every night, thank you to Dean and Roxane for these photos! Their photos turned out better than mine. Limited cell service. Length of stay – 5 nights + return stay later in the month for 11 days. Rates are much cheaper if you can stay for a whole month.
Rented a car for the day to do sightseeing and provisioning with friends. A few pictures, beautiful town. Anchorage in bay is totally unprotected and only good for day anchoring.
Isla Danzante, Honeymoon Cove – 3.6*
We really enjoyed this very small cove. Only a few boats at a time can fit in here. We snorkeled mid-day and saw dolphins hunting all the fish we saw when we were snorkeling. The next morning the dolphins came back in force. It was really fun to watch. Length of stay – 1 night. No cell service.
Isla Carmen, Bahia La Salina – 3.8*
This bay on Isla Carmen was really cool because it had a bunch of old buildings, like a ghost town. We were able to explore buildings, salt pond, very protected from NW winds, Big & easy to anchor. I think this is a must do anchorage. But once you’ve done it, it is now just a nice protected anchorage. Length of stay – 1 night. No cell service.
San Jaunico – 4.5*
This anchorage is a bit rocky with a NE wind, it was pretty crowded, but lots of room for all of us. It is very beautiful, we went for a dinghy patrol and picked out a spot to snorkel with Dean and Roxane, we also walked along the beach. length of stay – 2 nights. No cell service.
Bahia Concepcion (The sea within the sea), Punt Santo Domingo – 3.0*
This was a stop on our way to Santa Rosalia Marina. It had flat sandy bottom for anchorage for hundreds of feet at 20′ depth. It was easy to pull in pretty close We didn’t make the next planned stop to Rosalia due to family emergency. We turned back to Escondido marina to be close to an airport. If we had more time we could have gone into Bahia Concepcion area where there was a lot more anchorages and a bit of population. But family first always.
The Sea of Cortez is big and beautiful area to cruise/sail through. We only dented a very small percentage of what is available. I can understand why some people come and never leave. I hope you all get the opportunity to see this wonderful area in Mexico. We are certainly glad we did.
Angelique left the Columbia River Yacht Club for her multiple year voyage.
I will answer the 4 of most popular questions we get from others
Give you a 1 year review with Pictures… Isn’t a picture are worth a 1000 words?
Question: Tell me about your worst weather event?
Surprisingly this happened while anchored not moving. Mainly because we try and watch the weather as close as we can before leaving…not to say it won’t happen in the future.
Wind Storm – Cabo San Lucas – On Wednesday afternoon of Nov 14th around 11 am we left the safety of the Marina Cabo San Lucas and anchored just outside the marina in the bay. When we anchored it was a beautiful quiet day and calm. So Calm Dan was going to go swimming. By 1pm the winds started picking up and getting tossed around. t around 3 pm the decision was made, pull the anchor. We had no place to go, but friends Dean and Roxanne found a place for us at San Jose del Cabo. We headed for safety and realized we had the worst (to date) beating of this trip. More info in Original Blog story =Picking up Pieces in Puerto Los Cabos, Whale Sharks & Thanksgiving in La Paz….#20
Question: What about Pirates?
Yes, this is a concern in certain parts of the world, but our worst event happened in California USA.
Scariest Event – Unauthorized boarding of Angelique – We had just come from a private island resort at Tinsley Island (sponsored by Jaren Leet ) an outstation of St Francis Yacht club in San Francisco. We stopped in Antioch Marina. At 3am I heard a noise that seemed like someone walking on the back deck. Dan got up to investigate and sure enough a 30-ish lady sitting in our chair on the back deck. When Dan asked her to get off, she didn’t. It took 15 mins or so to get her off. She also decided to show up again the next morning during daylight and ask again if she could come aboard. Both times the police were called. The second time we got good pictures of her. We think she was on some type of drugs. More info in Original Blog Story =Private Island Resort, Public Docks & “Repel Boarders @ 4 am”….#16
Question: Are you afraid of being boarded by officials?
We’ve been boarded twice, once in Canada by customs and once in Neah Bay by Coast Guard.
Canada Customs boarding, Training event – After arriving at our very first port from our Portland departure, we landed in Ucluelet BC Canada. We had to wait for the customs & board control to arrive, staying on our boat for over an hour. Once they arrived we were instructed to stay in one place and allow them to do their work. It took a couple hours for them to complete their search and seizure procedures. The two hardest parts were when they found Dans Grandfathers small hunting knife with butterfly handles and said it was illegal to have, confiscated it and charged him $500 dollars. The other event was when they thought Ken Williams had a warrant out for his arrest? Sorry no Pictures on this one. We were detained for a couple hours and then released to go ashore. No love for the Canadian officials.
Official Business – US Coast Guard -We were greeted by the US Coast Guard @ Neah Bay on August 6th. We had Evan Tozier with us and had just cruised from the Puget Sound area to anchor overnight in the bay before heading down south to Ilwaco WA.
We had a great experience with seeing the Navy on our way up. Now the Coast Guard wanted to board us and check out all our safety items. I call Dan “Mr. Safety”, so we had no problems at all, other than getting them on and off the boat. The Winds and waves were pretty bad that day and we had a hard time getting them on/off. They were very nice and had everything checked out in 20 mins and let us go. Original blog story = US Coast Guard & Navy interactions with Angelique….#10
Question: It must be nice to always be on Vacation?
We live on our boat, yes we are in nice places but we are always doing boat maintenance. Repairs, cleaning, maintenance, sewing, and basically fixing anything and everything is a daily event. We say….
“We get to do repairs/maintenance in exotic places”
Dan is monitoring, fixing and maintaining the engines on a constant schedule with lists of stuff to improve on always. Plus we did a huge list of repairs in the Shipyard at Opequimar in Puerto Vallarta. Original blog post = A SHIPYARD STORY –> What it Takes to Keep a Big Hatteras Going….#24 (I should do a blog on just his improvements/repairs…would you all like to see that??)
Biggest Unexpected Replacement – While we were North in the San Juan Islands we had stopped at a dinghy dock to get some coffee. It happened to be really rough, so Dan stayed put while I ran up for important provisions. On our way back to the boat we noticed one of the tubes was a bit low on air. When we got back, we found a 2+ inch hole on the bottom. After multiple repairs and months of success and then disappointments with the fix we finally had to call it quits and file a claim with our insurance. The inspector came and said that Dan did a great job patching, but the dinghy was totalled. We decided on a shorter, lighter weight & overall smaller dinghy. We got lemonade from our lemons … We had multiple write ups on this topic… Multiple original blogs = A Dinghy Saga, lemons in paradise….#8 & Girls In-Charge when Storm hits & Our Dinghy’s Final Resting Spot…#17
~~~~~ Now Enjoy Our Pictures ~~~~~~
Wildlife on and around Angelique
Friends and Family
Highlights of the multiple teams that worked on our boat in Opequimar Shipyard
Best part is the People, those friends and family that have joined us and those that we have meet along with way.